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Elm Grove science teacher recognized by NASA

Biernat named to National Explorer School Merit Roll

Jan. 15, 2013

Kathy Biernat, a science teacher at St. Mary's Visitation School in Elm Grove, recently received a national honor from NASA for her ongoing activities in sparking an interest in space science among her students.

Earlier this month Biernat was one of 10 teachers across the nation selected by NASA to be part of its National Explorer School Merit Roll. It was based on her "stellar ideas and successful teaching strategies."

The honor followed Biernat's participation for the past three summers in NASA's National Explorer School workshops in Houston.

The teacher not only brought back lessons for her students, she has recruited fellow teachers to participate. Participation allowed students to use space science equipment and conduct a live video chat with NASA engineers.

"I am really pretty excited to be able to offer all the great opportunities to my kids through NASA," Biernat said. "It's so much more than astronomy. We use their materials in studying physics, chemistry, animals and even life science."

Biernat, who has been at St. Mary's for the past seven years, said she still hears from former students who tell her about their science studies in high school and college.

"It's fun to hear about how they are progressing and how excited they still care about science," she said.

Biernat and St. Mary's Principal Mary Tretow said they are proud of how the participation in NASA programs has made inroads with female students.

"Obviously, I want to get all students interested in science," Biernat said. "But it is really gratifying that this is inspiring young women who have not been as interested before this."

Tretow said the science curriculum that has been bolstered by Biernat's work has generated higher science exam scores.

"It's great that students are more and more considering becoming engineers and scientists," Tretow said. "That's the real strength of what Kathy has been able to accomplish."

Molly Berens, a St. Mary's Visitation mom, said she has several children who are planning to go into science-based careers ranging from medicine to engineering.

"I think it's just one of those things where a teacher has a lot of influence," Berens said. "I can see how she has been recognized by NASA."

VIEW SCIENCE PROJECTS

DURING: School public open house

WHEN: 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., Jan. 27

WHERE: St. Mary's Gym, 13000 Juneau Blvd.

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